SAS DIVERSITY STATEMENT
Semester at Sea is committed to fostering a shipboard community inclusive of all identities. The foundation and primary focus of every SAS voyage is the diversity of people, perspectives, and places. A welcoming and inclusive shipboard culture will help facilitate a unified, compassionate community that is considerate of all people and perspectives, resulting in a collaborative and progressive experience for all throughout the voyage.
DIVERSITY AT SEA
Diversity and Inclusion Clubs and Organizations
While most shipboard clubs and activities are developed and facilitated by participants, we have several traditional affinity groups on every voyage. Each of the groups below will work directly with a Resident Director to organize initial meetings, however most groups are facilitated by students.
Race/Ethnicity at Sea
- People of Color at Sea
- Asian/Pacific Islander Student Union
- Black Student Union
- Hispanic/Latino Student Union
- International Student Union
LGBTQIA++ at Sea
Voyagers who identify as LGBTQI++ or Ally are welcome and supported on every Semester at Sea voyage. Each voyage organizes a LGBTQ/Ally affinity group to support participants. Voyagers may also choose to start more specific identity groups.
Gender Identity at Sea
Although we recognize voyagers who identify as transgender, intersex, genderqueer/androgynous or genderless, for customs and immigration purposes, passenger identification cards and all shipboard and in-country program manifests, must match the gender listed on participant passports. Additionally, as we do not own our current vessel, public restrooms around the ship are gender specific. However, private restrooms are available in all passenger cabins and are not far from public areas.
Religion at Sea
Voyagers from all religious backgrounds are welcome and supported on all Semester at Sea voyages. Each voyage in coordination with a Resident Director in charge of Religion and Spirituality, organizes a non-denominational religious club. Students may also choose to start a specific religious group of their choice. Our floating campus does not have a Mass, Chapel or Temple on board, or any ordained religious officials. However, student groups may reserve public spaces as needed throughout the voyage.
Previous student generated religious groups have included:
- Young Life Bible Study
- Jews on a Cruise
- Muslim Student Association
- Christian Fellowship
Students with Disabilities
Semester at Sea provides academic accommodations for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. If a participant wishes to request accommodations, the student should request that the appropriate office at their institution email a letter of approved accommodations to the contact listed in the Course Registration Packet on a specific voyage’s Courses and Field Classes page.
Participants should submit these materials as soon as possible, but no later than the deadline reflected in the Packet. Requests for accommodations submitted after this deadline will be reviewed, but may be declined if found unreasonable due to time constraints–some accommodations require more lead time to provide on the ship than they would on a land-based campus.
Students and other passengers in the past with a variety of disabilities have negotiated the challenges of Semester at Sea, including those in wheelchairs. To be sure, it is a challenge, but it is very doable.
Flexibility is the watchword on our voyages. In the past, students using wheelchairs have been accompanied by caretakers who assist them physically, carrying them up and down the gangway, carrying the wheelchair or other equipment, etc., and negotiating similar variables in-port as well.
Participants with physical challenges (crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.) need to provide documentation from their physician indicating the level of functioning independence. Please contact ISE for further specific information.
Past voyagers with physical challenges have shared their experiences sailing with Semester at Sea.
Destiny Yarbro, a Hard-of-Hearing student on the Spring 2012 voyage, explores a language barrier with Jackson, from Manaus, as they count from 1 to 30 in both ASL and Libras.
Diversity and Inclusion Programming
Every voyage offers unique programs to help promote an inclusive environment for all community members. Programming is developed and implemented by students, lifelong learners, faculty and staff. Below are a few of the diversity programming we’ve held on recent voyages.
- Men and Masculinity
- Black Lives Matter
- Devils dressed in angels’ robes”: African-American Perspectives on Christianity in America
- Reflections on Our Encounters with Buddhism
- Pink Dot Ally Campaign: Understanding & Supporting LGBTQA Communities
- Women of the World: Myths and Reality
- Intervening as an Ally: Addressing Hate Crimes and Incidents
- The Privileged: Race and Class in a Global Context
- Interventions to help Women Worldwide
Diversity in Port
Underrepresented voyagers from varied backgrounds (Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, Religion, Disabilities) may experience more challenges than others in certain ports of call. The shipboard leadership team makes every effort to help inform and empower participants from underrepresented backgrounds prior to arriving in a new port of call. However, experiences will vary for each individual, and while some participants may have a challenging experience in one port, another student of a similar background may have an overwhelming positive experience.
If participants have any negative and/or overwhelming experiences in port, we encourage communication with Resident Directors, involvement in post-port reflections, and/or scheduling an appointment with the shipboard mental health center to help address your concerns.
Diversity Peer Mentor Program
We want voyagers of all backgrounds, including those form underrepresented identities to feel supported before, during and after their Semester at Sea voyage. If you identify with an underrepresented identity (Low-Income, LGBTQ, First Generation, Veteran, Physical Disability or limited mobility, learning disability, African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Multiracial, or if you identify with a specific religion) and you have concerns about sailing on an upcoming voyage, get connected with a Diversity Peer Mentor! Click here for more information.
Afi Onyile - Spring 2017 Voyage
“For some people, independence started the moment they moved in to the college dorm and said bye to their parents for the next four to five months. I thought my independence had begun there as well, but in getting ready to travel I discovered what my own dependency had looked like. Before this, I had never set up my own doctor’s appointments, granted I would not visit a doctor unless someone had forcibly signed me up for one. I was developing an even closer relationship to federal agencies as I applied for Visa’s and prepared the necessary documents to leave the country and enter a new one. I especially for two seconds felt very adult-ish when I applied for a credit card, specifically a travel rewards card since I’m now a self-acclaimed traveler.”
Follow Afi’s Blog: http://www.guestatthistable.com/
Kameron Dunbar - Spring 2017 Voyage
“My friend wasn’t quite sure how to react the first time someone grabbed her braid. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond when a little boy came up and began to rub my hand, scratching it to see if the color would rub off on him. A familiar concept became unfamiliar to me in new ways. Being Black in America was a feeling I was accustomed to. And while not always being the most comfortable situation, I was familiar with being the minority in a larger group. None of this prepared me for being Black in China—an experience I was unprepared for.”
Follow Kameron’s Blog: https://kamerondunbar.com